The Nigerian government has tried to use legal penalties such as college expulsion and jail time to end cultism. However, Nigerian cultism is a complex social problem that isn’t easily solved. It may take ending other social issues for Nigerian cultism to be solved.
Origins of Cultism in Nigeria
Nigeria has long had a history of secret societies dating back to pre-colonial days. However, modern cults trace their origins back to ordinary student associations. They combine local beliefs about black magic with secret practices. Cultism in Nigeria today is often associated with crime and acts of terror. However, citizens are often afraid to act against cults out of fear of retaliation and because members often come from powerful families. Some people also fear that cultists have supernatural abilities.
There are numerous cults on Nigerian college camps, with the Buccaneers, Vikings, Black Axe and Eiye Confraternity being some of the most important. Women-only cults such as the Black Bra, Jezebel and Viqueens also exist. Many cultists are college students, but some choose to remain on campus even after they graduate.
Cultists use violence to gain control over their universities. By intimidating professors, college officials and other students, cultists ensure they get good grades, school policies that favor them, and less competition from classmates for social opportunities and even dates.
Cults engage in crimes including theft, extortion, rape and murder. They often attack people to intimidate either their victims or other people in the community. Strict professors, romantic rivals, students who try to resist cults and even unlucky bystanders are all at risk of cult violence in Nigeria. Cultists have been known to use guns, knives, baseball bats and syringes to threaten people. In addition to attacking outsiders, cultists often fight each other.
Nigeria has tried to solve cultism by threatening to expel cult members from the universities they attend and banning them from attending any others. Many states have also added jail time for anyone found to be a cultist. However, because cultists often have wealthy parents, many people fear taking real action against cultists. Some colleges have also tried exorcisms and prayer meetings to stop cultist violence. Other measures Nigeria has used or considered using to fight cultism include public education on the dangers of cultism, closer monitoring of universities and campuses and a database of cult members. Cultism has also been connected to economic downturns in the past.
According to Nigerian sociologist Taiwi Adepoju, cultism is caused by inequality and corruption in society. “The nature of the Nigerian society is such that most people want to get power at all cost for their economic benefits,” he argues. Cultists tend to be the children of tribal chiefs, military officers and other powerful Nigerians who decide what happens in the country. By joining cults, these college students enjoy the same power and privilege as their parents. Adepoju thinks that putting limits on the power of the parents and fighting corruption might solve Nigerian cultism.